ByYra Mae Lopez, writer at
Surviving on film, shows, games, and most importantly: coffee.
Yra Mae Lopez

Despite all of the hype surrounding DC's extended universe (DCEU), its films have not reached widespread appeal among both audiences and critics. Bringing back the Marvel vs. DC dilemma, the former has received more critical success than its darker counterpart (of course, not counting the Dark Knight trilogy which is a completely different entity on its own).

Rest easy, superhero fans. This isn't another one of those posts that pits the two comic book companies against each other (both have so much potential), but there seems to be one missing piece in the that holds it back from reaching the same success as : the humans behind the heroes.

Heart, Humor And Heroics

In a quote from Screen Rant, DC writer Geoff Johns said that the upcoming DC films have "heart, humor and heroics." It implies that the formula to comic book cinematic success is these three core concepts. However, the past three films of the DCEU suggest otherwise. There's no denying that DC emphasizes the heroics of their characters. In fact, that's one of the stronger points of these films. Yet, the dark tone of their films leave the first two in the dust.

'Suicide Squad' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
'Suicide Squad' [Credit: Warner Bros.]

While Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad attempted to lighten the mood with little quips and comedic moments here and there, it was no match against Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy when it comes to heart, humor and heroics. Although there seems to be an improvement with humor of recent DC films, it seems like continues to miss the mark when it comes to hitting that emotional chord with viewers (up to this point, this has been DC's kryptonite, if you will).

Marvel does well to showcase the hero behind the mask as well as the superheroes themselves. Regardless of whether the character is human, God or a species inhabiting other galaxies, they all experience the everyday struggles that we, the audience, find in our everyday lives. Films of all sorts reflect the human condition: growing up, conflict, morality, love, death, family — the list is endless. Marvel films continue to root its characters in the struggles that make us human, giving us something to connect with such extraordinary characters.

People Versus Heroes And Villains

Looking at the past three films of the DCEU, they seem to ride on the hype of the superhero rather than the person outside of the costume. Instead of dealing with issues that people experience, they grapple with the struggles of being a superhero. Yes, Marvel does that as well, but that is just a small dot in the bigger picture.

Suicide Squad introduces a great cast of villains. However, we don't see much of them outside of their bad guy persona. We are constantly reminded that they are villains, not heroes (who then proceed to save the day) but we don't learn that much about who they are as people, what makes them tick, and what makes them fundamentally human.

Conversely, Batman v. Superman introduces the dawn of the Justice League with the trinity altogether on screen (finally). However, we never grow to care much about Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne or Diana Prince in the film. Instead, the best moments go to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The reason behind the feud among these iconic superheroes revolves around their conflicting ideas to keep the public safe. It was never about Bruce or Clark, it was about their ideals.

'Captain America: Civil War' [Credit: Marvel Studios]
'Captain America: Civil War' [Credit: Marvel Studios]

To compare this to DC's family friendly counterpart, Marvel's Captain America: Civil War was equally as much about the superhero as BvS but the difference is that we already know how these characters operate outside of their heroic personas. The battle is just as much between Captain America and Iron Man as it is Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. There's backstory here, and that's why audiences are impacted by their rivalry.

The many films of the MCU build that backstory from the ground up, and it seems like DC is taking a different route, ditching the origin story of training montages and learning to become a hero. Yes, there are other ways to create backstory and add depth to these characters, but we never see the DC characters as a people, only as heroes.

There's no doubt about it — the heart of a film lies in its characters. The early reviews of Wonder Woman are giving me high hopes for what's to come in the DCEU. If DC can make compelling yet appealing characters that the audience can relate to with their upcoming DCEU slate, the story will come together too.

Do you think it's more important to see the hero or and person underneath the mask?

(Sources: Screen Rant)


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